How to Build a Home Music Studio: Dealing with Noise

So you’re building a home studio. Once you have configure your control roomit’s time to consider the recording room.

All of the treatments discussed for the control room also apply to rooms where we actually want to make noise. Let’s be honest: you’ll never get a large neutral ambient space in an average home, so unless you have a hall with a minstrel gallery, aim for the dry.

The issue that usually comes to mind when considering creating a home studio is soundproofing. Unfortunately, unless you’re building a control room or living room and want to spend a fortune and make the space virtually unusable as part of your home, there’s not much you can do about it.

acoustic

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Double and triple glazing will do a good job of keeping out general noise, but it’s nearly impossible to keep 100% of the noise outside (or inside) unless you’re physically isolated from your surroundings. Low frequencies will come into your room by physical transmission from the outside, and nothing you can stick on your walls will make a difference – you just have to work around it.

If you live in an apartment or townhouse, you might want to think twice before trying to set up anything other than a small control room with high-quality headphones for your musicians.

Sometimes even the physical sound of someone playing a keyboard can be a nuisance to neighbors living downstairs. We know from experience…

Windows are often cited as a weak point, and all you can really do is close them tightly, use thicker glass, or seal them (with caulk, for example) if you can safely do so. security. If the window is in a recess, you can try cutting a 100mm thick MelaTech shape (we don’t have stock in MelaTech) to fit it perfectly, but that won’t get you the maximum than 1 to 2 dB reduction. Using tight fitting fire doors with acoustic seals can also help a little.

Whatever you do, avoid the following totally unnecessary sound insulation treatments – not only because they don’t work, but also because most are fire and/or health hazards.

  • egg boxes
  • Carpet on the walls
  • Furniture foam on the walls
  • Cavity wall insulation
  • Fiberglass insulation panels on the walls
  • Plywood or MDF on the walls
  • Floor rubber mat
  • Any type of “soundproofing” paint

Noise reduction hardware and software

Along with the proliferation of computerized home studios, we have fortunately also seen a great improvement in the quality of noise reduction software. Waves X-Noise and Z-Noise are great for tackling wideband noise like computer cooling fans, while iZotope RX and Accussonus Era are great for dealing with everything else, including airplanes, trains, birds, creaking chairs and microphone stands. Used with care, these tools can really help solve noise pollution.

If your studio is a one-room affair (i.e., just a control room), you’re obviously going to find it very difficult to record soft vocals or acoustic instruments – especially acoustic guitar. chosen – without also capturing fan sounds from your computer. It is therefore worth placing your computer in another room if possible, or simply in the hallway. USB extensions and the like are affordable and make it easy to find this noisy piece of equipment.

You can also do a little to calm your computer down. Macs are pretty quiet, on the whole, but if you find yours spinning too much, it’s usually because you have too many applications running. PCs are much easier to mod, and if yours is noisy, it might not be too difficult to replace your CPU cooling fans with another cooling system.

Noise Reduction Tactics

There’s some great software out there that can help you avoid many of the traditional noise and loudness issues that are intrinsic to recording live musicians, especially in a home environment.

Even in a well-soundproofed building, you can still hear a band playing, especially at night. A drummer sabotaging a kick drum alongside a big bass amp powering a 15 inch cab will always make for an invincible racket.

So if you don’t already have one, make it a priority to get yourself a high quality amp/cab simulation software suite such as Native Instruments Guitar Rig, IK Multimedia AmpliTube and others. If you’re a Logic Pro user, you already have some great options in Amp Designer and Bass Amp Designer.

These can give your bassist and guitarist a really good sound, allowing them to play to the best of their abilities while you capture their performance via DI. You can always re-amp it later if the simulation doesn’t do it for you – during the day, perhaps?

Another realistic option – especially for rock and metal bands – is a MIDI drum kit (the Roland TD series, for example) combined with a drum ROMpler like FXpansion BFD, perhaps with real cymbals and drums. hats added for good measure.

This shouldn’t bother anyone (except maybe the drummer) and might actually give you a better result than recording a real drum kit – not the easiest task in an average home. . It won’t be so good for soft, more expressive playing, but if that’s the vibe you’re looking for, then a real, soft-played kit might just be a viable option anyway.

Grounding

As soon as you start sending a signal from one device to another, it becomes susceptible to all sorts of interference that can show up on your track in the form of unwanted buzz, fizz, and hiss.

The most common type is the earth hum. In a perfect setup, all of your audio equipment would be grounded to a single, highly effective ground. In this way, no current would flow in the conductors and shields of the cables, and therefore no current would be introduced into the circuits and signals.

Your home probably has reasonable grounding, but the actual ground points may be numerous, shared between homes, and sometimes a fair distance apart. The installation may not be to ‘broadcast’ standards and the electrical distribution in your home may be on ‘rings’ which can cause further problems.

The best thing you can do to keep your sound clean is to only use balanced connections whenever possible. Connecting mics to audio interfaces using mono XLR-jack cables is simply not allowed, we’re afraid, and mono jack cables are only for connecting guitars, pedals, amps and unbalanced instrument outputs (like old synths). If you’re serious about registration, it’s an unbreakable law.

Best XLR Microphones 2021:

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For all microphones, you must use balanced XLR cables. Balanced connections use three wires: “hot”, “cold”, and ground (earth). On an XLR these are pins 2, 3 and 1 respectively, while on a TRS socket these are tip, ring and sleeve. The cold wire transmits no signal, but will pick up the same interference as the hot wire. When electronically phase inverted, the noise cancels out, leaving a clean signal.

Guitars, pedals and amps are more difficult to remotely connect and prone to earth hum because they cannot take advantage of balanced connections. The following walkthrough shows how this can be handled.

Earth lifting

To solve ground hum, it is common practice to “lift” or disconnect the ground (ground/pin 1/sleeve) at the input of an audio interface, for example. This can be done on an individual cable, on a loom, or on a section of your patchbay. Be sure to label wherever you’ve raised dirt because while this can eliminate any buzzing, it can also allow for different interference.

Great care should be taken with lifting weights on guitars and amplifiers; electrocution is a real possibility. Use a specialized unit for deadlift guitars if possible (see walkthrough again below). It’s not the most exciting thing to spend 200 pounds on, but it will make your home recording experience much more enjoyable and safe.

Obtain clean signals remotely

home studio

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Step 1: This is the transmit end of a buffered line driver system: a powered unit with a high impedance instrument input. The first step is to plug the guitar into the input. If the guitarist is in the control room, a DI output can be taken directly from the transmission box to your DAW for re-amplification or further processing via an amp simulation plugin.

home studio

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2nd step: A balanced XLR cable takes a clean, amplified, and balanced instrument signal as far as you need it to reach the amplifier. You can even join XLR cables together without fear of interference. This particular system uses its own type of signal; you couldn’t plug the other end of that cable into a mic input!

home studio

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Step 3: It’s the receiving unit, and it lives on the other end of the house, next to your amp. This particular unit also allows you to take two amps from a single signal and drive two amps at the same time without worrying about a ground loop between the two – a feat that can be difficult to achieve at the best of times. case.

home studio

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Step 4: The Gig Rig Humdinger is a simpler and more economical solution for signal cleaning and dual output operation. If, for example, your guitarist wants to be with the band rather than in the control room, the Humdinger lets you power and record one amp, and take a second power supply for DI or amp simulation in same time. Boring, perhaps, but very useful for home recording…